ONTARIO, Calif. - The Ontario Reign (21-14-2-1), proud affiliat of the NHL Los Angeles Kings and the AHL Manchester Monarchs, defeated the Utah Grizzlies, 7-6, Saturday evening, in a 5-round shootout at Citizens Business Bank Arena. The second largest crowd of the season, 8,532 fans, witnessed Jon Francisco, Andrew Martens, Dale Reinhardt, and Todd Jackson each register multi-point games in the match-up.
In the second game between the club in as many days, the Utah Grizzlies (15-15-4-3) took the lead at 5:51, as defenseman John Gleed took the puck to the glove side of Ontario goaltender John Murray from the top of the face-off circle, to make the score 1-0. Less than a minute later, right wing Itan Chavira fired a shot from the top of the circle, sending the puck bouncing off the pads of Grizzlies netminder Michael Mole. Reign captain Jon Francisco followed in the shot, tying up the loose puck and sending it to the back of the net, lighting the lamp for the Reign and tying the match at 1-1. Francisco registered his team-leading 16th goal on the play, with defenseman Andrew Martens and right wing Itan Chavira registering the assists.
Midway through the first stanza, Ontario defenseman Dan Knapp put the Reign ahead, 2-1, when he redirected forward Dale Reinhardt’s bid from the top of the face-off circle, past Utah netminder Michael Mole, at 10:40. Knapp netted his third goal of the season, as Reinhardt was awarded his first assist as a Reign player. At 13:13, Utah answered back with a shorthanded goal, when forward Tom May took advantage of a Reign turnover at the blue line setting the score at 2-2. With the period coming to an end, the Grizzlies pulled ahead on an odd-man rush when left wing Ryan Kinasewich beat Murray on his left, bringing the score to 3-2. The buzzer sounded, as the teams headed to the locker room, but the fisticuffs began between Reign defensemen Chad Starling and Grizzlies defenseman Jordan Hart on the ice. Starling dominated the fight sending Hart to the ice, just in front of the penalty boxes near the red line.
After what seemed to be shaping up as a scoreless second period, then Reign found success on a late power play in the stanza. Forward Dale Reinhardt found the stick of right wing Geoff Walker who punched the puck past Utah’s Mole at 18:42. Walker netted his 12th goal of the season, as Reinhardt registered his second point of the game, sending the teams into the third period tied, 3-3.
Ontario came out of the gate strong in the third; netting three unanswered goals to take a 6-3 lead. Left wing Todd Jackson made the score 5-3, after firing two back-to-back shorthanded goals into the net, pushing the Reign ahead of the Grizzlies. The first found the net just shy of the two-minute mark, when center Jon Francisco slipped a pass through to Jackson, who finished it off to put the Reign ahead by one. A minute after posting his previous goal, Jackson set a team record when he became the first-ever Reign player to score two shorthanded goals in a single game as he netted his second, unassisted at 2:58, making the score 5-3.
Shortly after Jackson’s goals, a scuffle ensued behind the Reign net, resulting in 28-minutes in penalties dispersed between the two teams. At 7:11, Reign center Jon Francisco tallied his third point of the game, netting a power play goal off an assist from defenseman Andrew Martens, who picked up his second assist of the night on the play. With the Reign up, 6-3, Utah answered back midway into the period with two goals from left wings Ryan Kinasewich and Evan Kotsopoulos, bringing the score to 6-5. The Grizzlies tallied their third unanswered goal at 12:59 in the stanza as right wing Mike Walsh tied the game at 6-6. The teams battled for the remaining minutes in regulation, but neither team lit the lamp, sending the club’s into sudden death overtime.
The five-minute extra session yielded no goals for either team as the club’s headed into a 5-round shootout to determine the winner of the match. Out of ten shooters, only Ontario Reign defenseman Andrew Martens managed to light the lamp, as he netted the game-winner for the Reign, giving Ontario the win over Utah, 7-6. Goaltender John Murray made 31 saves out of the 37 shots he faced in regulation, as well as denying all five Utah players’ shootout attempts.
* Todd Jackson sets team record becoming the first-ever Reign player to score two shorthanded goals in a single game. He currently holds a 2-game point streak (2g, 1a) (1/16/09-1/17/09)
* Itan Chavira currently holds a 2-game point streak (2a) (1/16/09-1/17/09)
* Jon Francisco extended his point streak to two games (4g, 2a) (1/16/09-1/17/09)
* Andrew Martens currently holds a 2-game point streak (1g, 2a) (1/16/09-1/17/09)
* Geoff Walker extended his point streak to three games (1g, 2a) (1/14/09-1/17/09)
MURRAY HEADS TO ALL-SAR GAME
Prior to Saturday’s game, the ECHL announced that Reign goaltender John Murray will replace Jeff Zatkoff in the ECHL All-Star competition. Murray will take over for the netminder, after Zatkoff was placed on the three-day injured reserve prior to the January 17 game. The ECHL All-Star competition is scheduled for January 20-21, at the Sovereign Center, in Reading, Penn.
1. ONT – Andrew Martens
2. ONT – Todd Jackson
3. UTA – Ryan Kinasewich